thisisms has already undertaken a poll -
http://www.thisisms.com/modules.php?nam ... s&pollID=4
50% said that they had had EBV as a child or adult. But many people don't know that they have had it and apparently up to 95% of people are infected at some stage in their life (mainly teenagers / young adults). The timeframe when people get EBV would certianly fit with the age profile of MS (even taking account of delay between getting EBV and the visible on-set of MS).
So a virus (perhaps EBV) has a strong case to support it:
(i) age of dx of MS (often in 20s) similar to EBV infection.
(ii) outbreaks of MS which suggest an infectious agent.
(iii) children with MS show much higher raate of exposure to EBV.
(iv) the limited effect of the immuno-suppressant drugs (which are only dealing with the immune response.
(v) MRI scans which show on-going activity (which might suggest an on-going infection).
Questions remain to be answered - why females get MS more than males?
Why the different forms of MS? Why the different levels of severity? Could it be more than one virus triggering MS (for different people)?
A viral infection such as MS could explain the rise of MS. Massive urbanisation over the last 100 years would allow the virus to spread more easily. Social attitudes have also changed - girls and boys probably start kissing earlier and with more partners than was probably the case in Victorian times.
I'm not sure why those in northern countries (or far south) have higher rates of MS. Whether it is the genetic susceptibility or whether EBV does not do so well in hot climates?
Lots and lots of questions for MS researchers to research. But these are the areas they need to focus on - I'm a bit sick and tired of research papers telling me that mice with EAE showed less severe disease course if they were injected with diet coke and grass cuttings.
To all the UK / European users of this site - have a good Christmas. To the US and Canadian users - happy holiday season.
Maybe 2006 will bring some good news for those with this disease.